Steven Soderbergh Posts a List of Everything He Watched and Read in 2009

Steven_Soderbergh_at_the_66th_Mostra

Fol­low­ing his retire­ment from film­mak­ing ear­li­er this year, Steven Soder­bergh has filled his time with some inter­est­ing endeav­ors. He tweet­ed an entire novel­la, and now he has post­ed a log of all the films and tele­vi­sion shows he watched, and all the books and plays he read, in 2009.

As you will see in the log (below), Soder­bergh spent much of that year in prepa­ra­tion for the sched­uled June shoot of his adap­ta­tion of Michael Lewis’s book Mon­ey­ball, which was abrupt­ly shut down only days before shoot­ing was to begin, due to dis­agree­ments over revi­sions to Steven Zaillian’s screen­play. Soder­bergh read the book for the sec­ond, third, and fourth time, as well as much of the work of base­ball sta­tis­ti­cian Bill James, includ­ing every abstract James pub­lished from 1977 to 1988.

The remain­der of his 2009 read­ing is a mix of non-fic­tion (Mark Harris’s Pic­tures at a Rev­o­lu­tion to Mark Helprin’s Dig­i­tal Bar­barism: A Writer’s Man­i­festo) and works of fic­tion by Nichol­son Bak­er, Don­ald Barthelme, and Thomas Pyn­chon.

More inter­est­ing is his film and tele­vi­sion log, which alter­nates between cur­rent Hol­ly­wood and indie releas­es and clas­sic Hol­ly­wood titles. The list should be no sur­prise com­ing from a film­mak­er repeat­ed­ly called a styl­is­tic chameleon. Should we be sur­prised he fol­lows a Ken Rus­sell phase with The Lone Ranger? Or that he’s just like us and binge-watch­es Break­ing Bad?

The log also sheds light on the post-pro­duc­tion process of two of his films released in 2009, The Girl­friend Expe­ri­ence and The Infor­mant, the for­mer viewed three times, the lat­ter four. Was his repeat­ed view­ing of Being There inspi­ra­tion? Or is it sim­ply one of his favorite films?

This is not the first time Soder­bergh revealed his view­ing log. In 2011, he gave Stu­dio 360’s Kurt Ander­son his 2010 log, which includ­ed twen­ty view­ings of his film Hay­wire and sev­er­al Raiders of the Lost Ark, in black and white.

See the full 2009 list below.

SEEN, READ 2009

All caps: MOVIE
All caps, star: TV SERIES*
All caps, ital­ics: BOOK
Quo­ta­tion marks: “Play”

1/1/09 VALKRYIE, THE GODFATHER

1/4/09 REMAINDER, Tom McCarthy

1/7/09 BURN AFTER READING

1/10/09 MADE IN USA, STATE AND MAIN

1/13/09 BEING THERE

1/14/09 THE INFORMANT, THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE

1/15/09 ARSENALS OF FOLLY, Richard Rhodes

1/24/09 THE GRAND, JAWS

1/25/09 THE HOT ROCK

1/27/09 SOLITARY MAN

1/30/09 THE APARTMENT, MONEYBALL (2) Michael Lewis

2/3/09 THE INFORMANT

2/6/09 “The Removal­ists”

2/7/09 “The War of the Ros­es, Part One”, THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE

2/8/09 THINGS I DIDN’T KNOW, Robert Hugh­es, FIVE EASY PIECES

2/9/09 SOLITARY MAN

2/11/09 MONEYBALL (3)

2/11/09 “The Talk­ing Cure”, Christo­pher Hamp­ton

2/14/09 HISTORICAL BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James. CORALINE, W., REBECCA.

2/15/09 FROZEN RIVER, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO COOPERSTOWN, Bill James.

2/18/09 BEING THERE

2/20/09 THE OSCAR

2/21/09 PANIC ROOM, THE PARALLAX VIEW

2/22/09 THE BRIDE WORE BLACK

2/23/09 1977, ’78, ’79 BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James.

2/23/09 1980 BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James.

2/26/09 1981 BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James.

2/26/09 PICTURES AT A REVOLUTION, Mark Har­ris.

2/27/09 REDS (part one)

2/25/09 thru 2/29/09 1982, ’83, ’84, ’85 BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James.

3/01/09 1986, ’87, ’88 BASEBALL ABSTRACT, Bill James.

3/02/09 EUROPA

3/04/09 FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT

3/06/09 THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH

3/07/09 ELECTION, THE VERDICT

3/08/09 NO WAY OUT

3/09/09 MONEYBALL (4), Michael Lewis

3/10/09 THE INFORMANT, THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, THE INFORMANT

3/12/09 BREAKING BAD* (pilot)

3/15/09 BREAKING BAD* (2 episodes)

3/16/09 BREAKING BAD* (2 episodes)

3/17/09 BREAKING BAD* (2 episodes)

3/18/09 IL DIVO, MISSISSIPPI MERMAID

3/19/09 THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (’68)

3/20/09 DUPLICITY, GOMORRAH

3/21/09 APPETITE FOR SELF-DESTRUCTION, Steve Knop­per

3/22/09 GATTACA

3/26/09 THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD, Elyn Saks, BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

3/27/09 AGATHA, MADEMOISELLE, BREAKING BAD* (2 episodes)

3/29/09 WAS CLARA SCHUMANN A FAG HAG?, David Watkin, POINT BLANK, BREAKING BAD* (2 episodes)

3/30/09 LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

3/31/09 FORBIDDEN PLANET

4/02/09 THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE, SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS

4/05/09 BREAKING BAD* (1 episode), NEXT STOP GREENWICH VILLAGE

4/06/09 AMERICAN GRAFFITI

4/10/09 HOUSE OF GAMES

4/11/09 CARNAL KNOWLEDGE

4/12/09 BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

4/15/09 ANIMAL SPIRITS; HOW HUMAN PSYCHOLOGY DRIVES THE ECONOMY, AND WHY IT MATTERS FOR GLOBAL CAPITALISM, George A. Akerlof & Robert Shiller

4/17/09 ROCKNROLLA

4/18/09 SEXY BEAST

4/19/09 THE FORTUNE, THIS IS WATER, David Fos­ter Wal­lace, BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

4/21/09 GOLDFINGER

4/23/09 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

4/24/09 BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

5/01/09 THE RACE CARD, Richard Thomp­son Ford

5/02/09 WHERE THE DEAD LAY, David Levien, CONVERSATIONS WITH MARLON BRANDO, Lawrence Gro­bel.

5/03/09 STRAW; FINDING MY WAY, Dar­ryl Straw­ber­ry, BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

5/06/08 THE RIDICULOUS RACE, Steve Hely & Vali Chan­drasekaran.

5/08/09 CONVERSATIONS WITH ROBERT EVANS, Lawrence Gro­bel

5/09/09 SHAMPOO, THE FRENCH LIEUTTENANT’S WOMAN

5/11/09 COLUMBINE, Dave Cullen

5/14/09 BREAKING BAD* (1 episode), JAWS

5/16/09 THE BROTHERS BLOOM

5/18/09 BREAKING BAD* (1 episode), TAKEN, ERASERHEAD

5/20/09 40 STORIES, Don­ald Barthelme

5/24/09 DIGITAL BARBARISM, Mark Hel­prin, BREAKING BAD* (1 episode), TRANSSIBERIAN

5/31/09 THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, DRAG ME TO HELL, BREAKING BAD* (1 episode)

6/02/09 THE CULT OF THE AMATEUR, Andrew Keen

6/04/09 3 NIGHTS IN AUGUST, Buzz Bissinger

6/06/09 THE HANGOVER, MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE

6/21/09 MOON

6/23/09 THE FORTUNE COOKIE

6/26/09 THE HURT LOCKER, BARRY LYNDON

6/27/09 THE GRADUATE

6/28/09 BEING THERE

6/29/09 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY

7/01/09 SUNSET BOULEVARD

7/02/09 CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND

7/03/09 PUBLIC ENEMIES

7/04/09 THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE

7/07/09 TWO LOVERS

7/08/09 THE EMPEROR’S NAKED ARMY MARCHES ON, THE FAILURE, James Greer.

7/09/09 HUMAN SMOKE, Nichol­son Bak­er

7/10/09 SLAP SHOT

7/11/09 BRUNO

7/12/09 THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES, PERSONA, THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (’68), ELGAR*, THE DEBUSSY FILM*, PYGMY, Chuck Palah­niuk

7/14/09 ALWAYS ON SUNDAY*, ISADORA: THE BIGGEST DANCER IN THE WORLD*

7/15/09 DANTE’S INFERNO*, ALTERED STATES

7/16/09 THE LONE RANGER

7/17/09 THE LONE RANGER AND THE CITY OF LOST GOLD

7/18/09 GET SHORTY

7/26/09 ORPHAN, REPULSION

7/27/09 THE HOSPITAL

7/30/09 THE COLLECTOR (’65)

7/31/09 ZODIAC, SONG OF SUMMER*, MUSICOPHILIA, Oliv­er Sacks

8/01/09 A PERFECT MURDER

8/02/09 VOX, NIchol­son Bak­er, CACHE

8/03/09 ADVISE AND CONSENT

8/05/09 THE LONG GOODBYE

8/06/09 THE RED SHOES

8/08/09 INHERENT VICE, Thomas Pyn­chon, UNMAN, WITTERING, AND ZIGO, ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE, THE ASCENT OF MONEY*, THE SHINING

8/13/09 THIEVES LIKE US, REDS (part two)

8/15/09 CHINATOWN, CITIZEN RUTH

8/16/09 DISTRICT 9, MADE MEN* (1 episode)

Justin Alvarez is the dig­i­tal direc­tor of The Paris Review. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Guer­ni­ca, and Flatmancrooked’s Slim Vol­ume of Con­tem­po­rary Poet­ics. Fol­low him at @Alvarez_Justin.

The Normandy Invasion Captured on 16 mm Kodachrome Film (1944)

The Nor­mandy Inva­sion, oth­er­wise known as “Oper­a­tion Over­lord,” was launched by the Allies on June 6, 1944. On that day — D‑Day — Amer­i­can, British and Cana­di­an troops land­ed on five sep­a­rate beach­heads in Nor­mandy, on the west­ern shores of France. By the end of August 1944, the Allies had lib­er­at­ed all of north­ern France and start­ed march­ing towards Nazi Ger­many.

At the time, the film­mak­er George Stevens (1904–1975) was a lieu­tenant colonel in the U.S. Army’s Sig­nal Corps. Dwight D. Eisen­how­er, tasked with plan­ning and car­ry­ing out the Allied inva­sion of Nor­mandy, want­ed film crews present at the inva­sion to pro­vide footage for a doc­u­men­tary film. Stevens took charge of the Spe­cial Motion Pic­tures Unit and gath­ered a group of cam­era­men and writ­ers dubbed the “Stevens Irreg­u­lars”. They used the stan­dard Army motion pic­ture stock, 35 mm black and white news­reel film. But they also brought along a hand-held cam­era and some 16 mm Kodachrome col­or film. Stevens shot sev­er­al hours’ worth of col­or footage from France, Bel­gium and Ger­many. The scenes from the lib­er­a­tion of Dachau con­cen­tra­tion camp are par­tic­u­lar­ly shock­ing and left their mark on the lives of the cam­era­men. In 1994, Stevens’ son used this film footage to assem­ble the doc­u­men­tary George Stevens: D‑Day to Berlin.

Bonus mate­r­i­al:

By pro­fes­sion, Matthias Rasch­er teach­es Eng­lish and His­to­ry at a High School in north­ern Bavaria, Ger­many. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twit­ter.

Miranda July Teaches You How to Avoid Procrastination

I’ve always thought of writer, actor and film­mak­er Miran­da July as some­one who cre­ates her own oppor­tu­ni­ties. Long before her sto­ries in The New York­er, and before Me and You and Every­one We Know, the award-win­ning first fea­ture that cement­ed her indie dar­ling sta­tus, she was cir­cu­lat­ing video chain let­ters fea­tur­ing her own work and that of oth­er young, female film­mak­ers. She record­ed LPs and toured orig­i­nal per­for­mance art pieces.

What a relief to find out she’s a pro­cras­ti­na­tor, too.

July insists that her chat­ter­ing mon­key mind near­ly deprived her of the con­cen­tra­tion nec­es­sary to fin­ish writ­ing The Future, her sec­ond full-length film. One of its most com­pelling parts actu­al­ly wound up on the cut­ting room floor. In it (above), we see Sophie, the under-employed would-be dancer played by July, com­ing to grips with her own self-sab­o­tag­ing ten­den­cy toward pro­cras­ti­na­tion.

Of course, the rea­son we’re able to see it at all is that July, whose indus­tri­ous­ness sure­ly has earned her the right to spend a decade or so doing noth­ing but watch­ing YouTube and Googling her own name, repur­posed it as a short, instruc­tion­al film (A Handy Tip for the Eas­i­ly Dis­tract­ed), which offers an anti­dote for those of us who share her afflic­tion.

(Admit it. You’re pro­cras­ti­nat­ing now, aren’t you?)

In addi­tion to the sound­ness of her advice, her method­ol­o­gy is endear­ing­ly low-tech. As one who’s been known to attribute a lack of cre­ative out­put to a less than ide­al work­space, I found the clut­tered, shab­by apart­ment set both famil­iar and gal­va­niz­ing. If we’re going to make excus­es, we may as well own them. July takes yet anoth­er step by har­ness­ing them and forc­ing them to work for her.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Life-Affirm­ing Talks by Cul­tur­al Mav­er­icks (Includ­ing Miran­da July) Pre­sent­ed at The School of Life

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is the author of any num­ber of books includ­ing The Zinester’s Guide to NYC and No Touch Mon­key! And Oth­er Trav­el Lessons Learned Too Late.

Hollywood by Helicopter, 1958

“This movie is going to be pret­ty obvi­ous.” That’s not the best way to get the view­er’s atten­tion. And the rest of the script, read by Bob Crane, is not much bet­ter: “Hey Kit­ty, look … Kit­ty, you did­n’t look hard enough … See the thing that looks like a build­ing? That’s a build­ing!” Nor is the premise of the film very good: Kit­ty is a novice actress, and, before appear­ing in her first movie, she gets an aer­i­al tour of Hol­ly­wood and its land­marks.

But from a his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive, this 1950s footage of the Los Ange­les movie indus­try has its intrigu­ing moments. It’s par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ing to see how much space there still was around some of the stu­dios and movie the­aters. Just com­pare the image of Grau­man’s Chi­nese The­ater on Hol­ly­wood Boule­vard tak­en from the film with a Google Earth shot from today:

By pro­fes­sion, Matthias Rasch­er teach­es Eng­lish and His­to­ry at a High School in north­ern Bavaria, Ger­many. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twit­ter.

Name That Movie: 26 Films in One Animated Minute

Evan Seitz cre­at­ed this one-minute ani­ma­tion in which each let­ter of the alpha­bet rep­re­sents a famous movie. How many can you name? The answers have been shared on Buz­zfeed and The High Def­i­nite.

Don’t miss our col­lec­tion of 450 Free Movies Online, which includes many great clas­sics, indies, doc­u­men­taries, noir films and more.

By pro­fes­sion, Matthias Rasch­er teach­es Eng­lish and His­to­ry at a High School in north­ern Bavaria, Ger­many. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twit­ter.

Duelity: Creationist and Darwinist Origin Stories Animated

Pro­duced at the Van­cou­ver Film School, this split-screen ani­ma­tion tells the sto­ry of Earth’ s ori­gins from a cre­ation­ist and Darwinist/evolutionist point of view. To make things more inter­est­ing (spoil­er: stop read­ing now if you want to main­tain the ele­ment of sur­prise), the sci­en­tif­ic sto­ry is told using reli­gious lan­guage, where­as the Bib­li­cal ver­sion is told as if it were the sci­en­tif­ic one. The slight­ly con­fus­ing con­clu­sion (its’ a zinger) shows how the lan­guage we use to present ideas influ­ences their per­cep­tion. And the iron­ic use of info­graph­ics tops off this visu­al and lin­guis­tic exper­i­ment.

On the home­page of the project, you can watch the videos sep­a­rate­ly and down­load them. Also, the YouTube chan­nel of Van­cou­ver Film School is always worth a vis­it.

By pro­fes­sion, Matthias Rasch­er teach­es Eng­lish and His­to­ry at a High School in north­ern Bavaria, Ger­many. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twit­ter.

The Mechanical Monsters: Seminal Superman Animated Film from 1941

In 1941, direc­tor Dave Fleis­ch­er and Para­mount Pic­tures ani­ma­tors Steve Muf­fati and George Ger­manet­ti pro­duced Super­man: The Mechan­i­cal Mon­sters — a big-bud­get ani­mat­ed adap­ta­tion of the pop­u­lar Super­man comics of that peri­od, in which a mad sci­en­tist unleash­es robots to rob banks and loot muse­ums, and Super­man, nat­u­ral­ly, saves the day. It was one of sev­en­teen films that raised the bar for the­atri­cal shorts and are even con­sid­ered by some to have giv­en rise to the entire Ani­me genre.

More than a mere treat of vin­tage ani­ma­tion, the film cap­tures the era’s char­ac­ter­is­tic ambiva­lence in rec­on­cil­ing the need for progress with the fear of tech­nol­o­gy in a cul­ture on the brink of incred­i­ble tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion. It was the dawn of the tech­no-para­noia that per­sist­ed through the 1970s, famous­ly cap­tured in the TV series Future Shock nar­rat­ed by Orson Welles, and even through today. Take for exam­ple books like Nicholas Car­r’s The Shal­lows and Sher­ry Turkle’s Alone Togeth­er: Why We Expect More from Tech­nol­o­gy and Less from Each Oth­er.

Super­man: The Mechan­i­cal Mon­sters is avail­able for down­load on The Inter­net Archive, and Toon­a­mi Dig­i­tal Arse­nal has the com­plete series of all sev­en­teen films. Find more vin­tage ani­ma­tion in Open Cul­ture’s col­lec­tion of Free Movies Online.

Maria Popo­va is the founder and edi­tor in chief of Brain Pick­ings, a curat­ed inven­to­ry of cross-dis­ci­pli­nary inter­est­ing­ness. She writes for Wired UK, The Atlantic and Desig­nOb­serv­er, and spends a great deal of time on Twit­ter.

Frank W. Buckles, The Last U.S. Veteran of World War I

Frank Woodruff Buck­les was born on Feb­ru­ary 1st, 1901. At the age of 16, he enlist­ed in the U.S. Army by con­vinc­ing recruit­ing offi­cers that he was, in fact, 21. In this short film, Buck­les recalls this time so long ago and the last year of the Great War. There are two par­tic­u­lar­ly mov­ing pas­sages in this doc­u­men­tary: when he talks about the dif­fi­cul­ties vet­er­ans expe­ri­enced after return­ing home, and when Buck­les voic­es his opin­ions on war in gen­er­al, and par­tic­u­lar­ly war today (“How did we get involved in this thing, Iraq? It was crazy, we have no damn busi­ness in there.”)

Frank died on Feb­ru­ary 27th, 2011, at the age of 110. The last sur­viv­ing U.S. vet­er­an of World War I, he was prop­er­ly laid to rest at Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery (find video of the cer­e­mo­ny here). There are two trib­utes to Mr Buck­les that offer more insight into his life: a short video by the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of Vet­er­ans Affairs and an obit­u­ary in the Wash­ing­ton Post.

By pro­fes­sion, Matthias Rasch­er teach­es Eng­lish and His­to­ry at a High School in north­ern Bavaria, Ger­many. In his free time he scours the web for good links and posts the best finds on Twit­ter.

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